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Rivalry Week: What it means for…

Nick Saban AP

Rivalry Week is at once the best and worst of times for college football fans.

At its best, this extended weekend wrapped around the Thanksgiving holiday offers up a litany of games that mean something beyond conference or BCS implications, giving all fan bases something just as meaty and satisfying: bragging rights and pride, especially when it’s an in-state rival humbled in defeat on the opposing sideline.  At its worst, however, this weekend means that yet another college football season is quickly wrapping up, with just a handful of regular season games remaining to go along with conference championship games and bowls.

There are, though, the obvious implications beyond just bragging rights and pride.  Myriad implications, from conference races to BCS placement to the chase for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.

So, with that as the backdrop, here’s a look at the marquee matchups for Week 14 and the potential implications the outcomes of the games could/would/should have on all fronts.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn
“The Mother of All Iron Bowls” indeed.  The stunning turnaround by Auburn under Gus Malzahn — from 3-9, 0-8 last season to 10-1, 6-1 in 2013 — has nearly overshadowed Alabama’s quest for three straight BCS titles and four in five years .  Who would’ve thought, prior to September, that this year’s version of the Iron Bowl would carry more conference and national weight than Alabama’s games against Texas A&M and LSU combined?  Certainly not anyone who doesn’t end their prayers with “War Damn Eagle!”  Speaking of a Higher Football Power, the last four Iron Bowl winners have gone on to win the BCS championship.

What it means for…
… the SEC: Everything, at least as far as the West is concerned.  It’s a winner-take-all battle, with the victor staking its claim to the divisional title and a spot in the conference championship game against either Missouri or South Carolina.  The Tide would earn a share of the divisional title even with a loss, although, obviously, the head-to-head tiebreaker would go to the Tigers with a win.
… the BCS: An Alabama win keeps the No. 1 Tide on its year-long inside track for one of the two spots in the BCS title game.  Even with a loss, Alabama would be a near-shoe-in for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, although that wouldn’t be clarified until after the conference championship game.  The same could be said for Auburn, which would get serious consideration for an at-large bid despite an Iron Bowl loss.
… the Heisman: Thanks to the missteps of others in Week 13, AJ McCarron has suddenly vaulted into the No. 2 position behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston in the eyes of both the voters and the oddsmakers.  A strong performance on a national stage would most certainly keep the Tide quarterback toward the top of the conversation and, depending on how the Winston off-field situation plays out, could send him hurtling toward front-runner status.

No. 2 Florida State at Florida
To say that the Sunshine State rivalry has lost some luster for this year’s game would be an understatement.  While Florida State is more than holding up its end of the bargain — nationally-ranked and seemingly predestined for a shot at the crystal — Florida enters the game armed with an embattled head coach and a six-game losing streak that’s the program’s worst since 1979.  The Gators won last year in Tallahassee, although the Seminoles are four-touchdown favorites this year in The Swamp.  While his boss continues to back him, Will Muschamp directing an embarrassing blowout loss in Gainesville could force Jeremy Foley to reconsider that very strident public support.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Literally nothing for either conference.  FSU has already locked up the Atlantic division’s spot in the ACC championship game, while UF was long ago eliminated from SEC East contention.
… the BCS: For a team that’s outscored its opponents 402-65 the past seven games, this game would appear to be nothing more than a worn-down speed bump on its inexorable march to the BCS title game.  Seemingly the only thing standing between the Seminoles and an early-January date in the Rose Bowl is a win over the Gators as well as an ACC championship game in which they will be prohibitive favorites regardless of which team comes out of the Coastal.
… the Heisman: For Jameis Winston, the Heisman is his for the taking — provided he doesn’t trip over himself the next two weeks and, more importantly, the investigation into an alleged sexual assault doesn’t give him bigger things to worry about than a fumbled trophy.

No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan has stumbled through a disappointing season with a 7-4 record that could easily be sub-.500 were it not for a couple of escapes against vastly inferior opponents.  At the other end of the spectrum is Ohio State, riding a nation’s best 23-game winning streak.  In fact, the Buckeyes set a school record last weekend, surpassing the 22-game streak of the 1967-69 squads.  The team that snapped the previous mark?  The 7-2 Wolverines in Ann Arbor, of course.  When it comes to The Game, you just never ever know  — especially when a heavy home underdog is involved.

What it means for…
… the Big Ten: As is the case for the game above this one, absolutely nothing.  Not only have the Buckeyes already clinched the Leaders division, they also already know they will face Legends winner Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game next weekend in Indianapolis.  Thanks to NCAA sanctions last year, OSU will be making its first-ever appearance in the conference title game.
… the BCS: If Ohio State has any shot at a BCS title, they have to hope either Alabama or Florida State loses once the next two weekends.  Outside of the crystal title game, they could also earn an automatic BCS bowl bid with two more wins, or perhaps an at-large bid with a loss in the Big Ten title game.  Either way, their BCS future won’t be decided until next weekend, although it could certainly take a significant at-large hit with a loss this weekend.
… the Heisman: When it comes to the Buckeyes and stiff-armed talk, “what if” is certainly in play.  Braxton Miller entered the 2013 season as the Heisman front-runner, but an injury that cost him a pair of September games knocked him completely off the radar.  Thanks to the stumbles of others, the quarterback is back on at least the periphery of the discussion, although it would take something monumental to once again make the junior a serious contender.  Perhaps Carlos Hyde, he of the three-game suspension to start the year, could make a late push?  Doubtful, but, as the last couple of weeks have shown, anything is possible when it comes to the most prestigious award in college football.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina
Stated simply, South Carolina has owned this rivalry of late with wins each of the past four years, with none coming by less than 10 points.  Steve Spurrier has Dabo Swinney‘s number and is not shy about letting people know about it, which is part and parcel of why this is such a tremendous non-conference rivalry.

What it means for…
… the ACC/SEC: Clemson’s chances at an Atlantic division title went down in flames in the midst of a 37-point beatdown at the hands of Florida State in mid-October.  If Missouri loses to Texas A&M, South Carolina will represent the East in the SEC championship game.
… the BCS: The Gamecocks’ lone opportunity for a BCS bowl rests in securing the SEC’s automatic bid via a conference championship.  If Florida State does indeed make the BCS title game, the Tigers are primed to replace the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl and insert the 70-33 jokes here.
… the Heisman: You would think that Tajh Boyd would be in the thick of the Heisman conversation.  The Clemson quarterback’s not, and I don’t have a clue as to why.

No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford
While it’s hardly on par with Notre Dame-USC, Notre Dame-Stanford has evolved into quite the entertaining rivalry the past several years.  Of the past nine games played, six have been decided by eight points or less.  The Irish own a 6-3 edge during that span, including an overtime win in South Bend last season en route to the BCS championship game.

What it means for…
… the Pac-12: The North division’s game of hot potato continued — and ultimately ended — last week thanks to Oregon’s lopsided loss to Arizona, handing the division title and a spot in the conference title game to Stanford.  The Cardinal will (likely) travel a week later to South winner Arizona State for a game that will decide the league’s automatic BCS berth.  If the Sun Devils lose to the same Wildcats that dumped the Ducks, the Cardinal would play host.
… the BCS: The Irish have no chance to move into the top-14 of the final BCS rankings necessary to qualify them for an at-large BCS bid.  If the Cardinal entertain any hope of qualifying for a fourth straight BCS bowl, they will need to win the conference; a third loss, whether it be this week or next, would effectively eliminate them from at-large contention.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 5 Missouri
One year after Texas A&M exploded onto the SEC scene in wildly-entertaining fashion, the Aggies have been reduced to playing the role of spoiler to a fellow former Big 12 member.  Playing the role of 2012 A&M is Missouri, which enters Week 14 with something the Aggies of a year ago didn’t: an opportunity to claim its first SEC divisional crown.

What it means for…
… the SEC: The conference scenario for Mizzou is very simple and straightforward.  Win, and the Tigers are in the SEC championship game as the East’s representative.  Lose and they’re out, replaced by South Carolina.
… the BCS: With three losses on their current résumé, there’s no need to use “A&M” and “BCS bowl” in the same sentence, unless it’s separated by “won’t be in a.”  Just as it was for its conference scenario, Mizzou’s BCS dreams are very simple and straightforward: win this weekend… win next weekend… and they’re in as the SEC’s automatic bid.  Lose at any point the next two weeks, and the Tigers will (very likely) be sitting outside the BCS window looking in.
… the Heisman: Johnny Manziel made significant repeat strides in the eyes of those who passionately follow the Heisman the last several weeks before a damaging performance against LSU seemingly knocked him out of contention.  Of course, based on how the stiff-armed landscape has drastically shifted the past couple of weeks, a resurgent performance against a high-quality opponent could put the reigning Heisman winner right back in the conversation.

Texas Tech at Texas
No. 9 Baylor at TCU
The most interesting aspect of this pair of games is how Baylor responds to an embarrassing and devastating loss.  In firm control of the Big 12 race entering Week 13 and with a BCS title game appearance a possibility, the Bears’ loss to Oklahoma State all but ruined what was a once-promising season.  A loss to the Cowboys the previous week, oddly enough, also cost Texas control of its own destiny in the conference.

What it means for…
… the Big 12: Here are the scenarios for each of the one-loss teams currently tied atop the Big 12 standings and what they need to happen to claim the conference crown.

  • Oklahoma State: a win over Oklahoma in Bedlam Dec. 7 coming off a bye week, regardless of what Baylor or Texas do and based on head-to-head wins over both.
  • Baylor: an OSU loss, plus wins over TCU and Texas.
  • Texas: an OSU loss, plus wins over Texas Tech and Baylor.

… the BCS: For both Baylor and Texas, their BCS bowl odds are long.  Each needs an Oklahoma State loss in order to claim the Big 12’s automatic berth as neither will be in play for an at-large bid, although there’s an asterisk when it comes to that absolute –there are a couple of scenarios that could get BU in as an at-large, although they are longshots at best and pipe dreams at worst.

No. 24 Duke at North Carolina
Will the shoe fit, or will the clock strike midnight on Duke’s Cinderella season?  The Blue Devils are in the midst of a historic campaign, with nine wins tying the school record set in 1941 and the opportunity to reach double digits for the first time since the program began playing football back in 1922.  They’ve qualified for a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever.  Simply put, Duke is one of the best stories of the 2013 season.  Whether the Blue Devils cap their fairy-tale story with a divisional crown remains to be seen.

What it means for…
… the ACC: If Duke beats North Carolina, which has won five straight after beginning the season 1-5, the Blue Devils will stake their claim to their first-ever ACC Coastal title.  If not?  A five-way tie between Duke (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-3), Miami (4-3), Georgia Tech (5-3) and North Carolina (4-3) is a possibility, although only the first four remain alive in the divisional race.  So, if Duke loses and all Coastal hell breaks loose, here’s what each team would need in order to secure the spot as Florida State’s sacrificial lamb in the ACC championship game.

  • Duke: a win over North Carolina; cannot win the division with a loss.
  • Virginia Tech: a Duke loss, plus a win over Virginia.
  • Miami: a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, plus a win over Pittsburgh.
  • Georgia Tech (ACC slate complete): a Duke loss, a Virginia Tech loss, a Miami loss.

… the BCS: Whichever team survives the Coastal chaos and represents the division in the division in the ACC championship technically has an opportunity to secure an automatic BCS bid.  Realistically, none of the four teams with a chance to win the Coastal has any type of shot at upsetting the Seminoles in Charlotte.

USF at No. 19 UCF
How little respect does UCF get?  The Knights, whose lone loss on the season came by three points to No. 10 South Carolina, are ranked by the coaches three spots behind a one-loss Louisville team that UCF beat on the road.  Obviously the lack of respect for the AAC as a whole is playing a significant role, but it doesn’t change the fact that George O’Leary‘s squad deserves better treatment in the polls than what they’ve been getting.

What it means for…
… the AAC: A win by UCF pushes its conference record to 7-0 and clinches the AAC regardless of what the Knights do a week later against SMU.  Louisville’s conference title hopes remain alive but on life support, with the Cardinals needing two UCF losses as well as a win of their own Dec. 5 at Cincinnati.
… the BCS: The AAC receives an automatic BCS bid, so a conference crown for UCF also means a guaranteed spot at the BCS table, with the chair likely coming in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC foe.

No. 16 Fresno State at San Jose State
This game is all about the scenarios and possibilities, which appear below.

What it means for…
… the MWC: Fresno State has already clinched the West and will represent that division in the MWC championship game.  The Bulldogs will face Utah State for the league title if the Aggies beat Wyoming Saturday, Boise State — based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with USU — if the Broncos beat New Mexico and the Aggies lose.
… the BCS: If Fresno State can win out, they will battle Northern Illinois for what should be the lone BCS bowl berth for a non-automatic qualifying conference member.  In order for a non-AQ to qualify for an at-large bid, it needs to finish in the top-16 of the final BCS rankings and ahead of the lowest-ranked AQ conference winner (No. 19 UCF in this case); the Huskies leapfrogged the Bulldogs in last week’s rankings and are now at No. 14, while Fresno sits at No. 16.  Whichever of those two teams finish ranked higher in the final BCS standings, provided it’s in the top-16 and ahead of (presumably) UCF, will grab the non-AQ berth and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
… the Heisman: Derek Carr is one of the most prolific passers in the country, ranking first in total offense and passing touchdowns and second in passing yards.  Up until this week, however, he’s barely been a part of the Heisman discussion.  Thanks to the shortcomings of others he’s now in the mix, although it should never have taken others tripping up for that to happen.

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Get ready for more talk about satellite camps at SEC meetings

SEC Media

The SEC meetings are getting underway this week in Destin, which means another round of satellite camp talk. With the month of June now just days away, coaches from outside the SEC (and ACC) will begin taking part in football camps around the country. Some of those camps, as you may have heard by now, will be taking place in states with SEC schools, and SEC coaches and athletic directors and more are not pleased about it.

This week, expect to see more of a push from the SEC to try and convince the NCAA to adopt their conference rule as a national rule. That rule, of course, is to prohibit coaches from participating in any capacity at a football camp outside the normal regulations outlined by the NCAA rule book. Those NCAA allows coaches to work in camps within their own state or 50 miles from their campus if traveling across state borders. The NCAA rules also allow for coaches to work at another camp outside those boundaries so long as the coach or coaches are not advertising their appearance at another camp. The hosting school may go all out in advertising their special guests though.

The SEC and ACC each have conference rules prohibiting their coaches from working at camps in this manner. Fearing they may lose a couple of recruits to the Big Ten from their home soil, the conferences each have figureheads and coaches stumping for the NCAA to close the supposed loophole in the rule.

“We’re in an evolutionary period and the end result is that everything isn’t necessarily going to be the same for everybody,” outgoing SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Associated Press last week. “That’s a difficult concept for them and it flies in the face of the experience of our coaches and our institutions for decades. The days of everything and every rule being grounded in a level playing field are gone.”

Of course, satellite camps is just one issue sure to be discussed this week. The SEC will also be reviewing cost-of-attendance issues, as well as the graduate transfer rules and more as the conference prepares for the upcoming year.

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Syracuse getting new HD carpet in Carrier Dome

Florida State v Syracuse

While the hope remains for a new football-only facility or a new roof option at Syracuse, the best it can do now is give the Carrier Dome some minor upgrades. This year the dome will have a brand new playing surface.

Syracuse has decided to install a new playing surface from FieldTurf. According to the press release from FieldTurf, Syracuse will install a FieldTurf Classic HD turf system. What makes it 3D is beyond me and perhaps best left to the turf managers out there, but the press release states Syracuse’s new turf will feature a 3-layer infill which should allow for an “elite-level artificial turf surface.” Sure, that sounds good.

“When we were looking to replace our synthetic field, I wanted to continue our relationship with FieldTurf,” said Pete Sala, Interim Director of Athletics/Carrier Dome Managing Director. “We like the quality and we are very excited about using the Classic HD product. The Carrier Dome is used year round for a multitude of events ranging from football to Monster Truck events and even ice skating shows. For this reason, it was important that we select a very durable product without compromising on quality. And that’s why we selected FieldTurf.”

It’s true. The Carrier Dome is used for much more than football, so having a dependable and low-maintenance field turf is key for Syracuse. And the Orange have already installed field truf from FieldTurf in other facilities. The company has also installed playing or practice fields for Ohio State, UCF, Arizona State, Louisville and more.

Syracuse looks to be going with a traditional field color as well, so if you were expecting or hoping Syracuse would install an orange playing field sure to burn your retinas, you will have to keep dreaming.

Now if we could just do something about those hideous uniforms.

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After making weekend visit, Blake Countess decides on Auburn

Blake Countess, William Fuller

So much for making trips to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Blake Countess has apparently decided he saw enough this weekend to be sold on Auburn. Countess announced on his Twitter account Tuesday morning he will transfer to Auburn, where he will step immediately into an opportunity to perform under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

Countess visited Auburn this weekend and was reportedly planning on visiting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State before coming to a final decision. Before checking out Auburn, Countess previously visited Arizona and former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. At Auburn, Countess will compete for a starting job right away after the Tigers have lost five defensive backs from the roster this offseason.

Countess is a graduate transfer from Michigan. As such, he will be eligible to play right away this fall. He announced earlier this month his intention to play the 2015 season somewhere else instead of Michigan. His announcement came a day after Jim Harbaugh welcomed another graduate transfer to Ann Arbor, defensive backWayne Lyons from Stanford.

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Today’s one-handed catch video comes from Class of 2016 recruit

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.42.05 PM

It was just a few summers ago we were being flooded with college football-themed parody videos to the tunes of “Call Me Maybe” or “Gangnam Style” or the “Harlem Shake.” Thank goodness the best way to go viral these days seems to be by performing extraordinary feats of athleticism in short video form.

We have seen backflips while catching footballs be a rather big thing this offseason. Baylor’s Shawn Oakman’s vertical jump while holding 70-pound weights was impressive as well.  Well, today we take a look at three-star recruit Khaleke Hudson. Hudson, from McKeeseport, Pennsylvania, has a good number of schools on his offer sheet right now. Among the schools with interest include Tennessee, Michigan State, UCLA, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State. After seeing this video he shared on Twitter, it is easy to see why coaches from around the country are fascinated by his athleticism.

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Petrino putting together deep QB position with another 4-star commit

Getty Images

Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is starting to fill up his quarterback depth with some good quality. The Cardinals added a verbal commitment from four-star quarterback recruit Tylin Oden on Monday. Oden is now the top-rated player in Louisville’s growing Class of 2016. He announced his commitment the way all kids make their announcements these days; on Twitter.

“I would like to thank my family, friends, school, and teammates for being with me every step of the way,” Oden said in a miniaturized statement on Twitter. “I’m honored to announce that I’ve officially committed to the University of Louisville. L’s up.”

Oden, a dual-threat quarterback from Tennessee, is the seventh-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and the sixth-bets recruit from the state of Tennessee according to Rivals. The 6-foot-5, 175-pound recruit is Louisville’s 10th in the Class of 2016, and second four-star quarterback recruited by Petrino since his return to the program. Louisville’s Class of 2015 added Lamar Jackson from Florida.

Per The Courier-Journal, Oden chose Louisville over offers from Mississippi State and West Virginia. Louisville had been considered the favorite.

Louisville will bring back Will Gardner in the fall, as well as Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin. Former junior college and Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson will also be eligible to play at Louisville this season.

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Troy adds former Auburn defensive back via transfer

Auburn Spring Game

It was not so long ago we learned Auburn would be losing defensive back Kamryn Melton to a transfer. Now we know where he is heading.

Melton announced on his Twitter account Monday he is moving from Auburn to Troy, of the Sun Belt Conference. The former three-star recruit of Auburn in 2013 did not play in 2014. His freshman season had been cut short due to a knee injury, limiting him to just three games played Troy has a habit of adding transfers at defensive back. Melton will be the fourth transfer defensive back on the roster, joining junior college transfers Tray Hall and Jalen Rountree as well as former UAB Blazer LaMarcus Farmer.

Despite not playing in 2014, Melton will still have to sit out the 2015 season at Troy due to NCAA transfer rules unless he files for a waiver and has it approved.

On a related note, can we talk about how sexy that Troy football helmet is? Because it is pretty darn sexy.

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McGuire’s Memorial Day Mailbag

Tim Beckman

You may not be receiving any mail from the United States Postal Service today, but that does not mean there is not any mail to sort through today. With it being Memorial Day (be sure to read John’s touching post from this morning, it’s an annual tradition here at CFT) and a slow news day on the college football front, I decided to field questions on Twitter and throw them into a mailbag post. We do not typically do these around here at College Football Talk, but like I said, it is a slow day and not much else is going on. So humor me, will you?

Let’s get right to it.

Always an excellent question, and it could go one of a few different ways. Do you pick a power conference team struggling to meet expectations, or go with a non-power program in need of a quick change. Last year’s first coaching change took place at SMU when June Jones stepped aside on September 8. Kansas let go of Charlie Weis later that same month. I am going to stick in the Big Ten and suggest Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has a very small margin for error at this point. Despite managing to get the Illini into a postseason bowl game last fall, the offseason stories regarding his treatment of players is not a good look, and Beckman does not win enough to get away with that kind of attention. If things do not go well, Illinois could be staring at a 1-3 record before Big Ten play, with Nebraska and Iowa on deck before a bye week. That seems like a good time to make a change if needed.

Excellent question, especially since I have been going through with some schedule commentary this weekend. The Michigan State-Oregon game is one of the top draws on the non-conference schedule, and for good reason. It will be given the primetime treatment with two of Lee Corso‘s favorite mascots, Sparty and the Oregon Duck. I guess the biggest question is what exactly should be the expectations for Oregon this year? Do they take a step back in the early going in the post-Marcus Mariota era? Two games in for a new starting quarterback on the road at Michigan State feels like a bad spot, even for an experienced transfer like Vernon Adams.

So where does this one in particular rank among other non-conference clashes? I would say it is a lock for top five, and a very strong candidate for the top three. I would probably give Alabama-Wisconsin but Michigan State-Oregon is right in that conversation. I also throw Louisville-Auburn in the conversation.

Aside from Navy joining the American Athletic Conference and Charlotte officially joining Conference USA in football this summer (July 1 is the official realignment day), we are going through another year with only minor ripples on the realignment Richter scale. This is a good thing, as it seems the monumental changes on the realignment phase seems to have settled in. The only thing left to wonder is when it could potentially happen again. Much to the chagrin of programs like BYU, UCF and Cincinnati, I honestly don’t see anything happening in the near future. The Big 12 appears to be content with 10 members, and the need to expand is non-existent in the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC at this stage. Perhaps the only thing that could change things is if there ever comes a time when Notre Dame decides to abandon independence, at which point the Big Ten, ACC and maybe even the Big 12 would be making sales pitches. And I don’t think that’s going to happen either. I have said before though I can envision a scenario in which BYU returns to the Mountain West Conference.

It is certainly not going to hurt, although we also should not expect Pitt to turn into a second coming of some of the top Michigan State defenses we have seen in recent seasons under Pat Narduzzi. I like what Narduzzi is doing with the Panthers but there are still some things that will be unknown until we see how he coaches the team as a head coach. Pitt was eighth in the ACC in total defense last season and tied for last in total takeaways. Look for that to be a big focus for Narduzzi. The Spartans led the Big Ten in takeaways last season with 34 and tied for the most takeaways in the conference the previous season too.

That was a good way to kill some time today, so thanks for sending in your questions. Who knows, maybe we’ll even give this another try some day. The fun does not have to stop here though. Keep your questions coming in the comments section or feel free to lob some my way on Twitter.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: Four teams get a bye week before facing Alabama

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on from the sidelines during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

It seems every year one school has a legitimate gripe with the scheduling within its conference. This year it may just be Alabama, which will surely cause many to break out the tiny violins for Nick Saban and company. Four of Alabama’s opponents this year will have the benefit of a bye week leading up to their respective match-ups with the defending SEC champions, including three within the SEC. Another school will get a few extra days to prepare for the game, while two more will be coming off virtual bye weeks against FCS opponents before facing Alabama.

Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU all have a bye week before facing Alabama. In the case of LSU, Alabama also has a bye week before hosting the Tigers in Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State will be coming off a Thursday night game (at Missouri), so Dan Mullen, Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs will have a couple of extra days to prepare for Alabama. Georgia plays an FCS opponent the week before hosting Alabama. Auburn will host Idaho the week before playing the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Here are some other brief thoughts on the schedules in the SEC this upcoming season.

Much to the disgust of some, the back-end of the SEC schedule is once again loaded with cupcakes. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina each finish the season with a game against either an FCS or Sun Belt opponent the week before taking in their in-state ACC rivals. Alabama and Auburn each dive into the FCS or Sun Belt pool before the Iron Bowl. Alabama and Auburn counter those late cupcakes with a filling main course in week one. Alabama faces Wisconsin in Arlington and Auburn takes on Louisville in Atlanta in week one.

We will be sure to hear gripes about this SEC scheduling practice, just as we seem to every season as the season draws to a close. The advantage of scheduling lightweights later in the season comes in helping to save teams from a late loss to keep rankings in order. Complaints from the Big Ten and Pac-12 fans may come, but there is nothing stopping their conferences from doing the same. Hey, that sounds familiar.

Florida and Georgia each get a bye week before facing each other in Jacksonville for The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (not sorry, I’m still calling it that). It will be the third straight game that sees Florida playing outside of Gainesville.

How many power conference opponents will the SEC play this season in non-conference play? The SEC East will play seven games against power conference opponents, including Missouri’s game against BYU in Arrowhead Stadium (the SEC will recognize BYU as a power conference opponent by the way). The SEC West has five games scheduled against power conference opponents, with three of those taking place in big spotlight neutral site venues in the opening week. In total, the SEC has 12 games scheduled against power conference opponents. The ACC has 21 games thanks to the addition of Notre Dame on a rotating schedule. The Big Ten has 19 power conference opponents, followed by the SEC’s 12. The Pac-12 has 11 power conference opponents and the Big 12 has eight (although each conference has smaller membership compared to the ACC, Big Ten and SEC).

Biggest non-conference upset alert game for the SEC? Tossing those neutral site games and ACC rivalry games to the side, keep tabs on Tennessee’s season opener in Nashville against Bowling Green. The Falcons have some work to do to make a return trip to the MAC championship game but the offense is developing into the mold of the Oregon Ducks. If Tennessee stumbles out of the gate, Bowling Green may be able to pull an upset if the defense doesn’t fall apart. That would put a rising Tennessee program in a difficult spot with Oklahoma coming to Knoxville the following week. South Carolina’s home game against UCF could get interesting as well.

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Georgia Tech recruit says he lost Ohio State offer when someone else commited

Photo credit: Rivals

This sort of stuff happens all the time at this level of college football, and it most certainly will not be the last time it occurs either. Incoming Georgia Tech defensive end  Anree Saint-Armour explained he lost a chance to go to Ohio State when the offer that was extended to him was later pulled.

“Missouri was leading as my senior season started,” Saint-Armour told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Then more offers started coming in. Then it was Ohio State for a little bit until that offer went away because somebody else committed there.”

Ohio State added four defensive ends in the Class of 2015. Two four-star players (Jashon Cornell and Dre’Mont Jones) and two three-star recruits (Joshua Alabi and Rashod Berry) were part of Ohio State’s impressive recruiting class, leaving little need for another defensive end in the class. Berry was the last of the four to commit to Ohio State, doing so in October. Ohio State added another defensive line recruit in December with defensive tackle Robert Landers giving his verbal in the middle of December.

With the offer from Ohio State vanishing, Georgia Tech came along at a good time. More importantly, Georgia Tech was the right fit at the right time for Saint-Armour.

“I started thinking about being close to family, and that Georgia Tech offered the same kind of education as Stanford,” Saint-Armour said to the AJC. “As I thought about it more seriously, in terms as the whole aspect of going off to college and instead of playing football – that’s when Georgia Tech took the lead.”

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This Memorial Day, take time to remember

Memorial Day III AP

(Reprinted and reposted with permission for a sixth straight year from, well, me.)

You have to admit that, despite the financial woes and political in-fighting and every other really crappy thing going on, we have a pretty damn good life, living in these United States of America.  It’s a far-from-perfect country, but, dammit, it’s ours.  Ours because our own have and will continue to shed their blood in the ultimate sacrifice.  Gave and will continue to give their lives, their hopes, their dreams so that we — and our children and our children’s children and their children — may live and realize ours and theirs.

As you go about your day today, doing whatever it is that you do on Memorial Day, take a second or two or sixty — or more — to reflect on what exactly this day is all about.

Please.  Just take a moment.  Take a moment to God bless those who have given so much.

God bless those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy day-in and day-out.

God bless those hundreds of thousands who’ve lost fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in the ultimate sacrifice paid forward to every single one of us, for our freedoms.

And thank you — thank you, thank you, thank you with every fiber of my being — to those who continue serving this country and keeping this great nation safe.

And, again, God bless families torn apart and made lesser by the heartbreaking losses, hellish and unthinkable holes in the soul that allow us to do whatever the hell it is we want to on this day and every other day of the year…

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Catching up with former Clemson receiver Daniel Rodriguez

Georgia State v Clemson

Back in 2012 Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Daniel Rodriguez officially joined the Clemson football program. Now he is looking to make it in the NFL.

As noted by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, Rodriguez is hoping to take advantage of his latest opportunity with the St. Louis Rams. Rodriguez was undrafted but still has a chance to grab a spot on the roster in St. Louis. He had landed on the radar of the franchise at the Medal of Honor Bowl and his pro day at Clemson. He was invited to try out with the team at a rookie minicamp.

Rodriguez served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and intended to join Clemson as a walk-on in 2012. The NCAA needed to clear a waiver for his eligibility for that to happen since he was attending Clemson on the G.I. Bill and not on a scholarship. This was one situation the NCAA made the right call. Last year Rodriguez’s story was picked up for movie rights and he later received the Armed Forces Merit Award.

If things continue to go well, perhaps there will be another story to be made into a movie.

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Quick offseason schedule thoughts: Can Big Ten carry over momentum?

Urban Meyer

Go back to Week 2 of the college football season last year. This was the Big Ten’s big opportunity to make a statement in nationally televised spotlight games, and the conference came up empty. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech. Michigan State let one get away from them at Oregon. Michigan was no match for Notre Dame. On top of that, Nebraska needed Ameer Abdullah to provide a miracle to avoid overtime against McNeese State and Northwestern was defeated at home by Northern Illinois. It was a rough day for the Big Ten, and many around the country were quick to write the conference off as a result. Well, we know how that all worked out.

This offseason has been nothing short of renewed praise for the Big Ten’s resurrection, but the conference is still quite top heavy at the moment. Sure, the Big Ten may be heading in a positive direction and the expectations are high for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan and continue to rise with James Franklin at Penn State, but there is still plenty of work to do to follow-up the way last season ended for the Big Ten. Following up one of the more successful postseason runs by the conference, highlighted by Ohio State’s national championship and supplemented by Michigan State’s tremendous effort in the Cotton Bowl, the Big Ten is now tasked with keeping the momentum going.

Here are some of the key games the Big Ten will need to win in order to keep things going its way at the start of the 2015 season.

Michigan at Utah (September 3): The Harbaugh Era kicks off in Pac-12 territory. Utah roughed up Michigan last season so there is a bit of a revenge factor at stake. And winning against the Pac-12 to open the season always helps with the image.

Minnesota vs. TCU (September 3): On the same night, Minnesota hosts Big 12 favorite TCU. The Horned Frogs may very well leave with a win, but the Gophers can put up a fight. If they can’t win it, keeping it competitive and close will still represent the Big Ten well in this one.

Nebraska vs. BYU (September 5): BYU may not be in a power conference (as much as they would love it), but they are not exactly a cupcake either. A win by Nebraska over BYU is worth respect, especially now that conferences like the ACC and SEC recognize the Cougars as a power conference-equivalent opponent.

Northwestern vs. Stanford (September 5): The academic bowl between the Wildcats and Cardinal could be a tough one for Northwestern, but they get the home field advantage. A win against one of the top programs in the Pac-12 the last few years would not go unnoticed.

Wisconsin vs. Alabama (September 5): Here is the biggie of the opening week. The Badgers take on defending SEC champion Alabama and will hope to be able to do what Ohio State did in the Sugar Bowl. It would also give Wisconsin the rare opportunity for a Big Ten team to have consecutive wins against Auburn and Alabama. A win would be huge for the Big Ten on the big stage in Arlington.

Ohio State at Virginia Tech (September 7): The Buckeyes take on the Hokies in primetime looking to avenge their only loss from last season. This Ohio State team should be much better than the one that stumbled last season, but a road victory in an ACC stadium would be a good way to cap the opening weekend.

If everything goes well for the Big Ten, and that is a big if, the conference could own wins against the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC (including wins against defending champions or co-champions in the SEC and Big 12) after just one week of play. Just putting together a winning record in those games would be a nice bragging point for the conference and would help carry over the momentum from last season. And that is just the start for the Big Ten. Week two sees Michigan State host Oregon and Michigan hosting Oregon State. Rutgers hosts Washington State to get in on the fun, and Iowa visits Iowa State. Iowa will also face Pittsburgh and Illinois will take on North Carolina. These are the types of games the Big Ten needs to win to move up the conference power rankings and prove the depth of the conference goes beyond the Buckeyes and Spartans.

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Netflix and live college football? Nope, not happening

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-INTERNET-FILM-TELEVISION-NETFLIX-EUROPE

The advancement of live sports in media continues to see expansion in delivering live action through various live streaming outlets, but the most popular streaming service is not ready to get in on the fun. Netflix, in response to the possibility of helping the NFL out with a streaming option for a game to be played in London, pretty much slammed the door shut on the possibility of seeing college football or any other sports on the service for quite some time.

Ken Fang of Awful Announcing noted this morning Netflix has no intention of jumping in the bidding for live sports content and that business model may not change in the near future. Netflix is built on offering content on demand, and none of its content is ever live. The bottom line is bidding on live games is just too expensive.

“I will never say never, but I would say that where we sit today, I don’t think the on-demand to sports is enough of an addition to the value proposition to chase,” Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos explained, via re/code. “I think the leagues have tremendous leverage in those deals, so it’s not like we’re going to get in and de-leverage the leagues. We’re going to go in and overpay like everyone else does, so it doesn’t get me that excited. Not to say that it wouldn’t someday, down the road, make sense.”

What would be cool would be if some conference could broker a deal with Netflix to put a library of college football games on the service. This becomes complicated considering existing media rights deals with networks and other broadcast partners, especially when some of those partners have rights to the on demand archives. But hey, maybe some day it could happen. Why not watch “Orange is The New Black,” then an old Syracuse game against Louisville, and then load up “House of Cards?”

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Rutgers receiver arrested for armed robbery in Florida

Darian Dailey, Rivals.com

Two teenagers in Florida were arrested Sunday morning for their involvement in a robbery. One of them just so happens to be a Rutgers wide receiver.

Darian Dailey was one of the two arrested by police in Sarasota, Florida. He is accused of using a handgun to rob a bicyclist around 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Nobody was injured in the incident, and the victim reportedly handed over his money. How much was turned over was not reported, not that it matters in this circumstance. Police have charged Dailey and Trazelle Johnson of robbery with a firearm.

Dailey, 19,  is a native of Bradenton, Florida. Dailey was a two-star recruit in the Class of 2014 for Rutgers, and was expected to compete for playing time this season.

Photo credit: Rivals.com

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Indiana wide receiver Isaac Griffith jailed for OWI

Isaac Griffith

This Memorial Day weekend got off to a rough start for Indiana wide receiver Isaac Griffith. Griffith, 20 years old, was arrested and placed in jail early Saturday after being charged if driving while intoxicated.

According to The Indy Star, Griffith was arrested in Bloomington and charged of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content above 0.08, and illegal consumption. The arrest took place at 3:54 a.m. local time after a police officer saw his high beams were on. Griffith was pulled over and the officer on the scene observed the odor of alcohol.

Indiana has said it is aware of the situation and gathering information regarding the incident.

You may remember the last time we discussed Griffith a little more than a year ago. Griffith was in a medically induced coma after nearly drowning in the Gulf of Mexico in March 2014. He was saved by a friend and returned home after coming out of his coma.

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